Reflections on Boyd Tinsley
Photo by Joshua Frances
Boyd Tinsley is known to fans as the exciting, dread flying, violin player in the Dave Matthews Band. When fans see Tinsley he is usually running across stage and dancing while he solos. After seeing this type of energy on stage, fans might be surprised to learn, that Tinsley is not always this energetic. Before a show, Tinsley will sit on his bus alone, with the lights out with just a few candles lit and listen to jazz music on his iPhone through his headphones (Dr. Dre Beats for those of you wondering). This sense of calmness allows Tinsley to center his thoughts. He admits he has to have this time before each show or he would not be able to play at the level fans expect each and every night.
How Tinsley first started playing the violin is even a unique story. Tinsley grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, a town known for its rich musical history. Even at a young age, Tinsley had a love of music. While in grade school, he signed up for a strings class thinking he would be able to take up the guitar because he wanted to play rock music. He did not realize it was a class designed for classical instruments. During the first class, his teacher told him he would be able to go to the office and change classes if he wished but instead of Tinsley decided to stay in the class and learn the violin. He admits to fans that this moment of when he decided to stay in that class was truly a life changing moment. Fellow Dave Matthews Band member, Carter Beauford, who grow up on the same street as Tinsley, recalls walking past the childhood home of Tinsley and seeing him practicing violin on his porch and describes his playing at “very scratchy.” Beauford even admits to making fun of Tinsley for his playing abilities back then. Tinsley continued to grow as a violin player and started his own band in Charlottesville at the time known as the Boyd Tinsley Project. Several years went by and Tinsley was approached by local bartender and musician, Dave Matthews to sit in on a song for his new band, The Dave Matthews Band. Other band members included young protégé bassist Stefan Lessard, and the childhood neighbors of Tinsley, drummer Carter Beauford and saxophone player LeRoi Moore. Tinsley agreed to sit in on the song, Tripping Billies, which soon after became a fan favorite. The rest, as they say is history; Tinsley left his band to join the Dave Matthews Band, full time.
Fast forward to 2008, Tinsley went through one of the most traumatic times of his life when band member and longtime friend, LeRoi Moore, passed away from an ATV accident. Late one night Tinsley could not sleep. Around four o’clock in the morning, while eating donuts, listening to music and playing Call of Duty on his Xbox at his home in Charlottesville, Tinsley decided he would make a movie. Ever since the “Crash Into Me” music video, he was always intrigued about making a short film someday. Tinsley could not get past the idea of making this movie, and over the next several weeks Tinsley started to make calls to get the process going. Everyone who worked with Tinsley on this project, from the producer Ryan Gall to lead actor Ryan Orr has said that it was Tinsley’s enthusiasm which was why they were so eager to jump on board to make this movie.
There was never a script for the soon to be named, Faces in the Mirror, film. Tinsley wanted everyone to work from their heart and not be constrained by words on a script. “Many would say that we were crazy to make a movie the way we did. But it was really the one way that we could make this film. When you want to create a work of art, then you cannot rush it. You have to let it come naturally”, says Tinsley. It could surprise some fans just how involved Tinsley was through the entire process and refused to release the film until he was completely happy with the final product; the true mentality of an artist.
After the film was released in August 2012 he decided he would go on a grassroots movement to get the film to the fans. Tinsley took to social media to connect with his supporters. Often around 2:00 AM, while Tinsley would be in the gym on the treadmill he would go back and forth with his fans on twitter. “The amount of love I received was incredible. Twitter truly changed my life for the better”. Tinsley started screening the film in small bars and theaters across the nation. If even just one fan asked Tinsley to come to their town to screen the film, he made it work. He was not worried about logistics, whether he was in the on the other side of the country or if he had to pay out of his own pocket for a venue. During his days off from touring with DMB, he would often fly to a city and screen the film. It did not matter if there were 50 people in the audience or 500; he would be at ever screening possible. Tinsley was very honest to the audience that he was not making the film to make money, he just wanted to share the film with them because of how much it meant to him. He said his reward was the fans showing up every night to the screenings and showing an interest in this film.